Chris Clarke reports (slightly edited):
"Another perfect day of weather enabled about 300 spectators to watch an enthralling World final between Mohamed Karem (EGY) and Ben Rothman (USA). Southwick has been an excellent venue for this event and has turned itself into one of the leading venues in the UK.
Rothman took the first game 7-5, but Karem then started to find his hitting form and took the next game 7-2. With the score at 1-1 in the third, Karem’s clearance at hoop 3 peeled Rothman through the hoop, but despite this, he still won the game 7-3. At this stage, we had the remarkable statistic that Rothman had lost 4 of his last 8 games 7-2 or 7-3. For those of you that don’t play GC, this is highly unusual – I have only lost 9 games by this margin in over 350 games! When Karem took a 6-3 lead in the fourth, it looked like another comfortable win. However, Karem played a poor positional stroke at 10 which allowed Rothman to clear Karem to the West boundary and move his own ball 4 yards in front of 11. Karem missed and Rothman ran 10, then 11 in the next stroke. The game went to hoop 13 and Karem played to 4 yards straight position. Rothman missed with his first ball, then hit with his second, but Karem still had a fairly straight 7 yard hoop for the Championship. A poor shot failed to even hit the middle of the wire and Rothman played into position. Karem then failed a jump shot from the boundary and it was soon 2-2 with all the momentum favouring Rothman.
The deciding game saw Karem lead 2-1, but a good clearance after hoop 4 allowed Rothman to take a 4-2 lead. Karem was starting to miss clearances. The score reached 5-3 before Karem tied it up at 5-5, putting all his hopes in a 12 yard clearance before after hoop 10. He missed this and a couple more shots to allow Rothman to run 12 from 2 feet to become the first American World Champion and perhaps fittingly at Southwick, the first Solomon grip world champion. Congratulations to Ben.
The Plate was won by Euan Burridge (Eng), once again demonstrating the strength of the U21 Champs. The Bowl was won by George Coulter (NZ) and the Shield by Duncan Dixon (NZ). I spoke with several experienced players from different countries during the event and we tended to agree that this was the weakest standard of play at the top of the event since 2011. However, we also agreed that it was the highest standard of play by those in the 20th to 60th positions of any Worlds. This improvement in strength of depth is a very positive factor.
I believe that all of the players mentioned in this report began playing as teenagers – or younger, which is great. Ben was the oldest of the semi-finalists at 35.
I should finish by thanking the multitude of volunteers that it takes to host a GC Worlds, together with the event sponsor, Simon Carter. It was an event enjoyed by virtually everyone which is surely the key test for a World Championship."